Proven ways to get a native-like accent

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
AlexTG
Green Belt
Posts: 298
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:14 pm
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Languages: Strongest: English(N), French
Strongish: Spanish
Studying: Latin, Japanese, German
x 499

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby AlexTG » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:25 pm

To pick up one specific dialect you don't have to avoid consumption of other dialects...
3 x

1e4e6
Green Belt
Posts: 359
Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:23 am
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=836
x 381

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby 1e4e6 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:38 pm

I think if they want an Australian accent, they can sure do it. In addition to my standard peninsular accent in Spanish, I also do porteño Rioplatense from Zona Oeste of Buenos Aires, because most porteños whom I know are from the working class west area (around "Fuerte Apache" near Ciudadela, if you know about Carlos Tévez), and I specifically search out this accent. This area is probably 15 x 15 square km. I imagine a ESL learner can go search out accents of New Yawk Brookyln, Toronto Scarborough East Side, Wellington NZ, the various Manc accents, "Seeth Eefriken" Highveld accents, Trinidadian or Guyanese, or whatever the hell they want. It just means that they want to pinpoint a region because there is something they like about the region, their friends come from those regions, they have lived there, they just like the sound or all of the above. YouTube and regional televised programmes/news from those regions are one way that I do to listen and thereafter imitate how the people talk there.

Also, choosing standard RP is standard yes, but I think a lot of people in Manchester or Sheffield would be less critical of a non-native ESL learner with a Geordie accent than an RP accent due to the connotations of RP and class. If you pick something like standard North American like Peter Mansbridge of CBC or Brian Williams of NBC, as far as I hear, I do not sense any regionalisms in their accents. I think it might sound a bit weird if for example, a 20 year old ESL learner tried to imitate exactly like Winston Churchill though.

Also, I raise my hand, as a native Anglophone, as someone who has never once watched a full episode of any Anglophone TV series in his life ever. When I lived in Newcastle, I once was forced to watch Scrubs, but left after 10 minutes through the episode. The last time that I watched in full an Anglophone film, was Titanic in 1997, when I was a boy. I watched hundreds of hours of cricket, exposing me to 10 other accents than US or UK. I imagine that an ESL can do the same, or anyone else for a different L2.

I want to practise my working class porteño Zona Oeste accent. So how to go about doing this? I subscribed to the TV news on YouTube there and watch their videos, paying attention mostly to their intotation and pecularities of their pronunciation. Then practise it with other interlocutors:

1 x

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1650
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: English
x 2386

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby reineke » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:17 am

AlexTG wrote:To pick up one specific dialect you don't have to avoid consumption of other dialects...


The Australian accent would need to overwhelm the other two. It's easier to practice most "non-English languages" as you call them. Btw, I am a great believer that all sorts of things are possible in language learning.
0 x

Tomás
Blue Belt
Posts: 525
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:48 pm
Languages: English (N). Currently studying Spanish (intermediate), French (false beginner).
x 573

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Tomás » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:37 am

tastyonions wrote:I speak online sometimes with a woman from Morocco who has a very good but not quite native accent when she speaks English. The funny thing is that she has a noticeable Texas twang to her English, despite never having been to the United States: apparently when she started learning the language she spent tons of time practicing with a guy from Texas. :-)


Dirk Nowitski is another example. He has mainly a German accent with some Texas mixed in.

On not wanting to perfect accent: I had a professor in college who immigrated from Cuba in his teens. He deliberately exaggerated his Spanish accent while at work. I know because occasionally he would forget the facade, and say a few sentences with an American accent. I was never quite certain why he wanted to sound more Spanish.
2 x

User avatar
Alphathon
Orange Belt
Posts: 111
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:07 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: • Scottish English (native)
• German (intermediate; ≈B1)
• Scottish Gaelic (beginner)
• Dutch (beginner)
◦ Doric Scots (passive understanding; I can’t really speak it)
◦ Hopefully some day: NDS/FY, SV, GA, CY, BR?, BSL, ES, FR?, ZH, JA, KO, ≥1 Slavic (RU?, PL/CZ?)
x 176

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Alphathon » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:23 pm

Tomás wrote:I had a professor in college who immigrated from Cuba in his teens. He deliberately exaggerated his Spanish accent while at work. I know because occasionally he would forget the facade, and say a few sentences with an American accent. I was never quite certain why he wanted to sound more Spanish.
What did he teach? If it was Spanish or some linguistic field then the accent would give him more perceived authority. If it wasn't, maybe his English wasn't quite perfect and he was aware of it - if someone with a foreign (in this case Cuban) accent makes a mistake then people will generally ignore it; if someone with an American accent makes the same mistake it may undermine their credibility in some people's eyes (depending of course on what the mistake was).
1 x
German/Deutsch
Der kleine Hobbit: 6 / 19
Star Trek - Das nächste Jahrhundert: 24 / 178
Scottish Gaelic/Gàidhlig
Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks: 9 / 12
Speaking Our Language, Series 2: 7 / 18
Dutch/Nederlands
Duolingo: 37 / 64

Tomás
Blue Belt
Posts: 525
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:48 pm
Languages: English (N). Currently studying Spanish (intermediate), French (false beginner).
x 573

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Tomás » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:09 pm

Alphathon wrote:
Tomás wrote:I had a professor in college who immigrated from Cuba in his teens. He deliberately exaggerated his Spanish accent while at work. I know because occasionally he would forget the facade, and say a few sentences with an American accent. I was never quite certain why he wanted to sound more Spanish.
What did he teach? If it was Spanish or some linguistic field then the accent would give him more perceived authority. If it wasn't, maybe his English wasn't quite perfect and he was aware of it - if someone with a foreign (in this case Cuban) accent makes a mistake then people will generally ignore it; if someone with an American accent makes the same mistake it may undermine their credibility in some people's eyes (depending of course on what the mistake was).


He was a sociology prof. He recently retired as head of the department at Princeton, so a high flyer in his field. I think your insecurity hypothesis is a good one. I never heard him make a grammatical error though. His English was better than most natives. He just had an accent.
0 x

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1650
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: English
x 2386

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby reineke » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:32 pm

Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny

"The incidence of nativelikeness in adult second language acquisition is a controversial issue in SLA research. Although some researchers claim that any learner, regardless of age of acquisition, can attain nativelike levels of second language (L2) proficiency, others hold that attainment of nativelike proficiency is, in principle, impossible. The discussion has traditionally been framed within the paradigm of a critical period for language acquisition and guided by the question of whether SLA is constrained by the maturation of the brain. The work presented in this article can be positioned among those studies that have focused exclusively on the apparent counterexamples to the critical period. We report on a large-scale study of Spanish/Swedish bilinguals (n = 195) with differing ages of onset of acquisition (<1–47 years), all of whom identify themselves as potentially nativelike in their L2. Listening sessions with native-speaker judges showed that only a small minority of those bilinguals who had started their L2 acquisition after age 12, but a majority of those with an age of onset below this age, were actually perceived as native speakers of Swedish. However, when a subset (n = 41) of those participants who did pass for native speakers was scrutinized in linguistic detail with a battery of 10 highly complex, cognitively demanding tasks and detailed measurements of linguistic performance, representation, and processing, none of the late learners performed within the native-speaker range; in fact, the results revealed also that only a few of the early learners exhibited actual nativelike competence and behavior on all measures of L2 proficiency that were employed. Our primary interpretation of the results is that nativelike ultimate attainment of a second language is, in principle, never attained by adult learners and, furthermore, is much less common among child learners than has previously been assumed."

Academic paper (PDF): Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... c_scrutiny [accessed Apr 9, 2017].
2 x

Atinkoriko
Orange Belt
Posts: 130
Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:31 pm
Location: England
Languages: English (N)
Ibibio (N)
West African Pidgin English/Guinea Coast Creole[N]

Actively learning
German (B1.2)
French (B1)
Spanish (A2)

Newly started:
Russian (Beginner)

Paused
Italian

Les Anciens
Latin
Ancient Greek


Dabble daba doo once upon a time:
Dutch
Portuguese
Esperanto
Afrikaans



WISH I HAD TIME: Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5594
x 218

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Atinkoriko » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:08 am

I once spoke to a German girl with an RP [received pronunciation] accent. It was very good, but the fact that it was that good gave her away as non native. :lol:

You see, she spoke an older and more conservative form of RP which is almost unheard of nowadays. Even the BBC has allowed traces of regional accents to creep in, creating a more 'modern' form of RP. In addition, even the Queen herself has changed her accent slightly and has allowed certain vowels to be modernised ie no longer using an [ɛ]-like vowel in words like land etc

Furthermore, RP [modern or not] is quite uncommon amongst young people . The very rich and posh ['native' RP speakers] tend to make up a very small percentage of the population by default, and their kids an even smaller percentage of the population. Thus one rarely hears 'pure' RP from young people, but rather a sort of hybrid accent which features aspects of RP but still contains other traces which is enough to give the speaker away as being from a particular region.

Her accent contained no such traces, at least to me, and gave me the feeling she was actually a news presenter from the 1950s who had been trapped in a time bubble for the last few decades.

For the Americans here, a good but not entirely accurate comparison would be between 'modern' American English and the now extinct transatlantic accent which was employed decades ago. Link here ====> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLT-SQUBRDw


In essence, I'd say it's not quite possible to be entirely indistinguishable from a native speaker. You may reach a level that's so good that native speakers may be confused as to whether you're native or not, but sometimes you may also reach a level that is so good that it almost immediately gives you away as non native.
3 x
: 1776 / 5000 DE Vocab/Ive Wordlists (5k new)
: 55 / 75 DE Films Half SC :
: 83 / 2500 DE Books Half SC :
: 75 / 150 Fr Films SC 150h :
: 56 / 2500 Fr Books Half SC :
47 more days to IITAC Italian! Russian?

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1650
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: English
x 2386

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby reineke » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:34 am

How To Speak Like A Native

"Can an adult learn to speak a second language with the accent of a native? Not likely, but new research suggests that we would make better progress, and be understood more easily by our conversational partners, if we abandoned a perfect accent as our goal in the language learning process.

For decades, traditional language instruction held up native-like pronunciation as the ideal, enforced by doses of “fear, embarrassment and conformity,” in the words of Murray J. Munro, a professor of linguistics at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Munro and a co-author, University of Alberta linguist Tracy Derwing, argue that this ideal is “clearly unrealistic,” leading to disappointment and frustration on the part of most adult language learners. Indeed, a growing body of evidence points to a “critical period” in childhood for acquiring correctly accented fluency in a given language; even as research on neuroplasticity has pushed the limits of what adults can learn, this boundary has remained stubbornly in place. In light of these findings, a newer generation of adult foreign-language teachers has given up pronunciation instruction altogether, assuming it is a futile effort.

Both of these assumptions are wrongheaded, contend Munro and Derwing. Pronunciation can be learned—but it should be learned with the goal of communicating easily with others, not with achieving a textbook-perfect accent. Adult students of language should be guided by the “intelligibility principle,” not the old “nativeness principle.” As Derwing and Munro note, “even heavily accented speech can be highly comprehensible.” (In a 2009 article published in the journal Language Teaching, the two warn against the “charlatanism and quackery” of the “accent reduction industry.” Such books, tapes and classes claim to be able “to eliminate a foreign accent within specific periods of time; 28 days is a popular number,” the authors observe. “There is no empirical evidence that this ever actually happens.”)

Learners guided by the intelligibility principle focus less attention on individual vowels and consonants, and more attention to the “macro” aspects of language, such as general speaking habits, volume, stress, and rhythm. A study by Derwing and colleagues showed that this approach can work. The investigators divided subjects into three groups: the first received foreign language instruction with no particular focus on pronunciation; the second received instruction with a focus on pronouncing the individual segments of language; and the third received “global” pronunciation instruction on the general way the foreign tongue should sound. After 12 weeks of classes, the students were asked to tell a story in their new language, and their efforts were rated by native-speaking listeners. Only the global group, the listeners reported, showed significant improvement in comprehensibility and fluency.

The intelligibility principle may be behind the acknowledged effectiveness of immersion-learning programs: when we immerse ourselves in a foreign language, particularly as spoken by natives, we’re picking up more than specific vocabulary words: we’re getting the gist of how the language is spoken, and our own attempts reflect this expansive awareness. Few of us have the time or money to engage in complete immersion, but a good tip is to limit your conversational practice with other native English speakers. The speech of second language learners, research shows, tends to “converge” toward a version of the foreign tongue that is more like the speakers’ native language. Instead, seek out someone who grew up talking the way you want to talk, and practice, practice, practice. You won’t sound perfectly like a native, but the natives will understand you perfectly well."

http://ideas.time.com/2012/04/04/how-to ... -a-native/
2 x

User avatar
Teango
Green Belt
Posts: 322
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2015 4:55 am
Location: Honolulu, USA
Languages: Adv: English (N), German.
Int: Russian, Hawaiian, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), French, Hawaiian Pidgin English, Spanish.
Beg: Japanese, Irish, Swedish, Latin, Ancient Egyptian, Toki Pona.
Language Log: https://teango.wordpress.com/
x 810
Contact:

Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Teango » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:03 am

Atinkoriko wrote:I once spoke to a German girl with an RP [received pronunciation] accent. It was very good, but the fact that it was that good gave her away as non native. :lol:

Oh yes...this reminds me of a lively snippet from one of my favourite (and linguistically-minded) musicals - My Fair Lady:
"Her English is too good", he said, "That clearly indicates that she is foreign." (source song: "You did it!")

When I hear an L2 speaker with a more localized English accent (e.g., Yorkshire, Geordie; South Carolina, New Jersey), the features of that accent usually far outweigh the features of the speaker's L1 accent(s). As a strong promoter of linguistic diversity, I love listening to different accents, pidgins, creoles, dialects, and varieties of English. In particular, I could listen to Jamaican patois all day long! Even if the speaker gives his non-nativeness away at some point, so what?! The accent still reminds me of friends, community, and memories of a specific place and culture - a recognizable sociocultural group identity - and this already makes me feel closer to them in a conversation or at least intrigued to discover how they picked up their accent in the first place.

I have to admit, I'm quite interested in developing a local accent in some of the languages I study as well, rather than ingraining some form of non-localized bookish pronunciation (I hope I'm not too late in this respect...). With some languages (e.g., Russian), I find it a real challenge, not because I can't decide on one particular accent over another to adopt (although that's still a tough one), but because Russian doesn't seem to vary as much across the country in terms of pronunciation as, say, German would across Germany, or English across the UK, US, and other countries. I'm not saying that Russian is completely homogeneous across Russia however. For instance, there are subtle differences in the pronunciation of the letter /o/ between St Petersburg, Moscow, Kirov, and Novgorod, and perhaps differences in how /g/ is pronounced as you move closer to the Ukrainian border. What I'm wondering instead is if a few subtle changes in my attempted local Russian accent will have quite enough impact to distract a native speaker from my more buoyant underlying L1 accent?
4 x
  • Language: New Zealand Sign Language | Goal: Complete "Thumbs Up!" course, units: 16 / 20
  • Language: New Zealand Sign Language | Goal: Complete "Learn NZSL" course, units: 1 / 9


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: brased, flabbergasted, jsmith12, neofight78, qeadz, Voytek and 10 guests